Biological basis for Consciousness? [continuing conversation from last post]

[Following from last post]

Hi Judi, Bhatta et al

I align with so much you say, but other bits just don’t make sense to me.
Perhaps it is just a terminology thing.

“When we divest ourselves of all supposed “truth” what is left? Only our direct experience of life. Why should I or anyone declare they know any truth? And why should we believe anything anyone tells us? We simply know our direct experience. I would say that we can listen to all arguments with as open a mind as possible, and hold it up against the light of what is our own experience to discern what makes sense and what doesn’t. But to take on something as being “truth” from any source, in my book, is a problem.”

The thing I have goes like this.
Why, once we learn that nothing in reality seems to have any sort of absolute certainty, should we accept certainty of anything – even our own experience?

We do seem to have rather a lot of evidence that it seems very likely that we do exist in reality.
We seem to experience ourselves, and others.

If you have any experience of stage magicians (and a cousin of mine has a son who is a stage magician, and I have memories of his interest in such tricks and deceptions from about age 5 and onwards), or stage hypnotists (and I once volunteered to be on stage with a hypnotist, and was so intrigued by the experience, that I went on to study with that individual and be awarded a diploma in hypnosis), then one learns the limits of experience first hand.
There is a vast psychological literature on such things.
There is a vast neurological literature also.

Experience is simply experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, or relate directly to anything. It doesn’t necessarily have any sort of truth value (in defining truth as an accurate representation of something at some level).
Experience always has existence.
It always is what it is.
It doesn’t necessarily relate to anything “real”: as in existent in reality, whatever reality might actually be that includes us and everything else.

So for me, with all my experience of 40+ years of designing and writing computer systems, and of using various levels of abstraction to model systems, and various sorts of modelling systems to numerically simulate various systems, from sails, to weather, to fish populations, to human voting and economic behaviour, it seems very probable that the notion of truth is entirely illusory, and is most powerfully completely replaced by the notion probability estimates and the idea of models.

Retention of the use of the term truth at any level seems only to create confusion rather than clarity, at all lower levels.

So I certainly have a great many different heuristics that I find operationally reliable in particular contexts, and I tend to use without conscious question in practice. And I do not call these things truths.
I call these things heuristics.
Heuristic is a term that means something that is necessarily a simplification and a shortcut and a limited approximation to something, but something that has proven to work reliably in specific contexts. A “rule of thumb”.

Using that terms acknowledges the fuzzy boundaries of both reliability and utility that seem in both logic and practice to accompany all such things I have yet experienced. And that statement makes no universal truth claim, only a claim of utility in domains of my personal experience to date.

So I agree that we need an element of scepticism in assessing all information, from any source, at any level. And we do develop “functions” of reliability in respect of particular sources in particular contexts and levels of abstraction. And it always pays to have a certain scepticism as to the levels of context actually present – and to probe and test such things occasionally.

And in practice, we do need to develop reliable measures that we trust (at all levels), because reality is far too complex to consciously assess everything. Our consciousness is too slow. It is impossible to either balance or walk consciously. Balance requires neural feedback that is so quick that much of the information doesn’t even make it all the way to the spinal chord, let alone the brain, as various levels of functionality are “short circuited” by “reflexes” in the cause of effectiveness in reality.

When one has spent enough time in the anatomy and neuro-chemistry and cybernetics of such systems, one develops a certain appreciation for the necessary levels of complexity and “short circuit heuristics” required for even the most simplistic of consciousnesses to appear.

The sorts of consciousness that we seem most likely to be, is so far removed from simplicity (about 20 levels of interconnected levels of systems of abstract heuristics) that real time comprehension of anything but the most abstract of simplifications is computationally impossible. We can only ever deal with highly simplified levels of abstraction.
(Allowing that Heisenberg was wrong, and we could actually establish the actual state of a human being in exact detail {which we can’t, but pretend we could}, then modelling such a thing with the most accurate approximations we have today (the equations of quantum mechanics) would take more computational power than is delivered by converting the entire mass of our galaxy to the best sorts of von-Neumann computer we think are theoretically possible. The math of QM scales at the 7th power of the number of particles involved – which is why simulations rarely use more than a handful of particles. So physicists are in all sorts of logical difficulty in respect of “truth” claims.)

And this leads into Bhatta’s reference to Christof Koch’s work.
I have great respect for most of the work Christof has done, but I don’t necessarily agree with any of the abstract inferences he has taken from it. He comes from a catholic background that requires individuals to believe at least two impossible and mutually exclusive truths before breakfast every day. That does rather tend to lead to instabilities with respect to logical coherence. And that is not at any level a personal attack on him, just noting a logical inevitability.

And no one is entirely free from such things – a certain level is the necessary outcome of a learning process that starts with simple binaries and works outwards towards successively more accurate approximations to infinities. Catholicism seems to me to impose a somewhat greater strain on intelligent human brains than most other cultural forms – I notice a particularly high failure rate (as in really bright catholics who become unable to function in society, and become a danger to themselves and others).

So it is a really complex topic.

And I dislike using the term “truth” in anything other than a historical or developmental context.

And it seems we are largely in agreement, except about the utility of using the term “truth”.

[followed by]

Hi Judi

I am reasonably confident that I understand what you have experienced, in the sense that I have experienced it myself many times, and sometimes for quite extended periods.

I do not deny in any way the existence of that experience of being.

I do very strongly question the interpretation of that experience of “no-thingness” as being any sort of direct knowing of anything (other than itself as an experience).

I can certainly understand why the experience makes it seem that the “direct experience” is a sensible and logical explanation, yet it does not seem to be so to me in anything other than the most trivial of senses.

From my own personal testing, that experience of being cannot survive sleep, and nor can it survive anaesthetic.

That would seem to very strongly imply that it is a brain based experience, though very certainly one of a very different kind from ordinary thinking.

I have some ideas which I think very probably explain what that state is, and what it is giving access to, but as I have not yet been able to get anyone else to “get” my explanation for ordinary consciousness, the extension of it that gives rise to this sort of consciousness is even less available.

So I’m a bit stuck when it comes to explaining it to others, and I am reasonably confident with my own explanatory context, and it is not at all a “ground of being context”. The anaesthetic test clearly falsifies that explanation.

The closest sort of approximation I can give that will probably make some sort of sense is that it seems to be a direct access mode to some of the deeper subconscious processes that normally give rise to consciousness, and it seems to involve voluntary isolation from external inputs. So it has both vastness (for in a very real sense that subconscious system is the container of the context of all possible experience – but in a personal software sense, rather than any sort of external universal sense – though it definitely feels like an external universal sense, because all of our experiential reality occurs within it – just like it seems the sun goes around the earth – all a matter of perspective in a very real sense) and a stillness and a sense of instant access to knowledge (as it is directly connected to that part of our being that gives us access to all intuition – which is another aspect I’ve been trying to explain to those few who have shown interest for over 40 years – to date without success).

So I don’t in any way deny or challenge your experiences – I share them.

And I do very definitely challenge the interpretation of that experience, as it seems clearly to me that it is a direct result of the physical brain in a social context, though by mechanisms that I have been unable to communicate to any other people due to the depth and complexity of the concept sets involved. Which in a very real sense is exactly what you would expect with the complexity of the systems involved.

[followed by]

Hi Judi, Deb, Bhatta, FOS et al

This is getting really complex, as I suspected it might.

One of my Dad’s younger brothers (Ross) I have written about before. He had a car accident with a train in the fog one morning just before my birth, and was taken to hospital not expected to survive, as a large chunk of his skull and a fist sized chunk of his brain was found at the site, put in a cigar box, and sent in the ambulance to hospital with him. He did survive, and I knew Ross for over 50 years. In the latter years, after I moved 300 miles away from most of the family, I exchanged more emails with Ross than any other family member, sometimes weekly, sometimes more like monthly. I had another friend, Colin Broadly, who had his skull shattered in a severe car accident, with chunks of skull driven deeply into his brain. He was fished out of the Auckland harbour after floating face down in the cold winter water for quite some time (about an hour), and was reconstructed in hospital while his body was packed in ice and 3 teams of surgeons worked on him for days, before they warmed him up again. I spent a lot of time with Colin after that. He was a frequent visitor at my place, and I at his, and he would sometimes stay for days. So I have a lot of direct experience of people with severe brain trauma. And I have studied a lot of videos and written reports on many hundreds of other cases.
Many other people I met through dad’s involvement in the Returned Servicemen’s Association had similar brain trauma from bullets, shrapnel and concussion from nearby explosion. Lots of them.
I have some understanding of the sorts of things one sees, in various levels of changes of behaviour and abilities.

Mum’s brother Bill took a burst of fire from a Spandau machine gun in the chest and abdomen, 13 slugs went through his body. He was left for dead on the battlefield in North Africa, but when they went to bury his body that night it was still warm. He recovered, and lived another 30 years before losing his battle with cancer.

The degrees of variation I have seen in the effects of trauma, physical and emotional, on individuals is huge.
I observe, analyse, correlate – continuously. Question, try out alternatives. Compare, contrast. It is what my brain does, what I have trained it to do.
It does it so much faster than I can speak, at peak probably 10 to 100 times faster. Slowing down to be able to coherently express something is a distinct change, a very different mode of being. What gets expressed is often quite different (though related) to what happens in high speed thinking mode.
I was able (after considerable practice) to follow up to 20 simultaneous conversations in a restaurant, provided I didn’t engage in any of them.
I could type verbatim records of meetings, provided I didn’t talk.

@Judi
I have spent a lot of time over the last 40 years working with computers, writing programs.
The levels of abstraction and indirection that I have become familiar with over that time, as the complexity of the machines and the software systems they can hold has grown, are quite profound.
Indirection is kind of like a children’s treasure hunt. You go to a location in memory, and you don’t know until you get there whether it contains the thing you want, or a pointer to another location in memory.
The idea of code blocks is kind of like that. You design a part of your system that has to do something, but you don’t know ahead of time what the something will be. The “block” of “code” that will be executed can come from anywhere else in the system, or can be created “on the fly” though interaction with the user (so even the programmer may not know what it will be, but will know the constraints within which it must operate).

So my brain is used to taking things from any level of abstraction of anything, and plugging them into any other level of abstraction that seems to have a similar set of constraints, and seeing what happens.

It seems that we do live in a reality, and that there are levels of rules in that reality, at least to certain levels of measurement accuracy.

There are two major classes of uncertainty directly related to this.
One class involves all the uncertainties of measuring, simple measurement errors, Heisenberg uncertainty, quantum uncertainty, Goedel uncertainty etc.
The other class involves the possible and the impossible, and the common misunderstandings of such things.

It seems that in one sense, there are two classes of things, the possible and the impossible. It seems that both classes are infinite, though indications are that the impossible is a far larger infinity than the possible (and coming to terms with that can cause brain pain).

It seems that most people confuse this “fact” of having infinite possibility as meaning that anything is possible or that everything is equally valid.
It doesn’t actually mean that.

It seems that all of our experience is of a model of reality that our brains construct for us.
It seems that all models have certain levels of utility in certain contexts, and some models have much greater utility over a much greater range of contexts than other models.

Thus it is possible for models to be fit for one purpose but not for others.
Considering the earth to be flat is great if you are building a house. It works. It is accurate within the accuracies available from all commonly used house building measurement tools.
If flying more than a few hundred mile a flat earth model will put you a long way from your destination.
So all models have utility, as measured in terms of probabilities of outcomes over time in relation to particular sets of actions, outcomes, and values associated with those outcomes.

[followed by]

Hi Bhatta

As the article you posted by Edelman et al indicated, the human brain is a very complex thing. It has many different parts, each part made of many parts, each connected to every other part in many ways.

In a sense, it is a singular brain.
And yet that brain has many parts (mostly in duplicate).
It seems that the I is a software entity, one of the many in this brain.
It seems that this I is in a very real sense, a creation of language. It seems to be a complex set of responses in both hardware and software. It responds to all the influences of body, and it is more responsive to the highest levels of context. It seems to be this software entity that is primarily responsible for choice in as much as choice happens. So much of what the body does is response to stimulus – it is very good at it.

And this I has many parts.
One part records memories. This part seems to develop very quickly. We seem to be able to access memories, long before there is any sort of verbal consciousness, but because we do it with verbal consciousness, and memories seem to require a destructive read and re-write, the form of our present consciousness gets partially overlain over whatever memories existed of the original form of consciousness – and repeated recall simply increases that effect.

Other parts are concerned with bodily movement, sensations, modelling and predicting the world around us.

Because of the importance to us of social behaviour (we are a social ape/mammal) we have entire sections of the brain dedicated to recognising other individuals, and our relationship to them, and our history of interactions with them.

It seems that social signalling, which is common to vertebrates, has gone to a whole new levels with us in terms of our ability to learn and use language, and to create abstracts and use them in language.

It seems that our ability to create abstracts is essentially a side effect of the storage and retrieval systems, that just happens to be very useful. Evolution is like that. The process is complex, involves all the different selection pressures present simultaneously, and uses both adaptation and exaptation.

Adaptation is the process of gradual change through differential survival of variants in a population.
Exaptation is the sudden use of something developed in response to one set of pressures, for a different use. This can result from many different causes – a rapid change in environment meaning the old selection pressures disappeared, or a doubling of the available patterns (our species seems to have had at least 6 major chromosomal doublings in our evolutionary history, and countless equivalents in our cultural and conceptual development) are the two most common causes.
Recursion seems to be a major factors, processes that fold back upon themselves, where the output of the process feeds back as an input to itself and becomes an important trigger for the creation of a new level of process, ……….

So this thing that is I, that is aware of itself, that experiences these many aspects of the qualia of being, from sights and sounds and tastes and smells and touches, to loves and hates, to ecstasies and fears, to abstractions, to the vast ranges of emotional responses (some 60 different chemical mediators and modulators of emotional responses identified to date), to vastness and stillness that seem to have no analogues in sensory perception, to all the levels of meditative states that seem to be possible; seems to be a software entity, living within a software model of reality that is created by brain and reality and self in a complex set of recursive interactions.

My own personal explorations of these states have involved many different disciplines:
marshal arts: judo, karate (zen do kai), tai kwon do, tai chi chuan;
physical training: running, swimming, cycling, diving and deep diving, breathing, relaxation, focus;
meditation: aspects of Buddhist and various other contemplative traditions;
philosophy: all those I have been able to find literature on, from the older Greek, Persian, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and many other minority cultures – both practices and concepts, through to the more modern;
scientific: biochemistry, cybernetics, evolution, psychology, physiology, behaviour, systems theory, games theory, computation (Turing, Wolfram, etc).

My understanding is my own.
I know of no one who shares it, and while some small fraction is my own creation, the vast bulk of it has come to me as a gift from the experiences of others, through their writings or practices or speech or symbols.
My understanding continues to evolve, most days something significant shifts, and from the new context it becomes difficult (if not impossible) to recall exactly what it was like before that context became available.

So it appears that this I, this who, is a very complex mix of accident and design, of random and pattern, of known and unknown, of things from the past, and of possibilities imagined and not yet existent.

It seems that the ability to model, and to predict, that is so necessary in a world of predators and prey, has been generalised in the case of our species to a level present nowhere else.

It seems we can apply this to any aspect of being, including ourselves, recursively transcending ourselves, creating new layers of being that include all the old, and the new, all driven off this context sensitive computational and recall system that is a human brain in a human body in a cultural context on a big ball of spinning rock in various states of solidity and liquidity in a cosmos.
So many layers, so many boundaries, some fuzzy, some hard, some soft.

Such an infinitely flexible mode of existence, yet such a frail housing.
So many cultural constructs so finely honed by aeons of time, many of which are simply not relevant in our exponentially changing present.

That weakness of the body was such an essential part of the process of getting us to where we are, yet something so in need of transcending, as we need to be able to see our self interest on the longest possible time-frame if we are to avoid the destruction so probable with our present myopic focus on short term market based self interest.

And the distinctions hardware and software are not nearly so distinct in a brain as they are in a computer, and it is still a useful analogy.

[followed by]

Hi Judi

I don’t have any sort of position to defend.
I have vast amounts of data, that indicate all sorts of things.

It seems that almost all of the “knowledge” of culture is deficient at the levels of inspection we are now capable of, requiring new sets of heuristics.
Add in to that, the many levels of exponential change going on at present, and the result is a great many opportunities, and a great many dangers.

I see it as very powerful to be as aware as possible of the probable dangers, and to be as skilled as possible in risk mitigation, at the highest possible strategic levels and all levels below.

I make no claim to any sort of ultimate truth.
Such truth values as I have (which all express as probabilities) come from observations, from tests in reality (for me the final arbiter in all matters).

It seems clear from these tests at many levels, that my experiential reality is a model of the reality in which we find ourselves (as distinct from any sort of direct inspection of reality – it is at least one level removed).

It seems that most of the limits of abilities that most people accept are a direct result of their cultural conditioning (at many different levels).

It seems that most of what most accept as reality is a cultural construct optimised by and for our historical past and for the most part poorly suited to our exponentially changing present and future.

I have to make a serious choice very soon, as to how much effort I continue to put into awakening people to this very probable reality, and how much I just leave people to their particular sets of illusions and do what needs to be done within the system to save as many as possible.
My current pedagogical attempts seem to lack the required utility.

I certainly hope that others who see errors in what I express would point me to evidence sets and interpretive schema that would expose those errors – and that seems to be a rather rare characteristic in reality. As you say – most people would rather defend being right than explore the possibility that the schema in use was significantly less than optimal in the current context.

[followed by]

Hi Deb, Judi, FOS, Bhatta et al

@FOS
Good question (“Can I not keep my faith in a separate consciousness from this particular body/life while we put your systems into this reality?”).

This is an attempt at a good answer.

@Deb
“Software entity” is in a real sense, something non-physical, yet something intimately connected to the physical.

And I started writing software 42 year ago, and have been doing it for a living for 29 years. So the term “software” is probably a shorthand for me for a collection of a few thousand abstract concepts and sets of relationships between those concepts that numbers in the tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands.

So for me, software is very provable in a sense, I have been working with it for over 10,000 days, creating, testing, refining, releasing, repeat.

There exists a vast literature of different approaches, techniques, tools, etc- far beyond the abilities of any single individual to experience or comprehend, except in the most abstract of senses. I have worked in about 20 different computer languages, and know that there are hundreds of others out there that I am not at all familiar with.
Levels of software give a powerful analogy for levels of abstraction.
Working with different sorts of models in software gives a profound intuitive appreciation for different sorts of uncertainty and complexity.

@Judi
You asked Judi “What you have to offer can be considered valuable and necessary for moving humanity out of its destructive patterns; it might even be vital, but the question is, does it require that everyone (or most someones) abandon their beliefs and perceptions in order to utilize what your knowing has shown you?
Is there an end game that can be implemented without anyone having to have the knowledge you have? It seemed that when I first read your ideas at your website, there were some implementable steps. It seems to me that this is where you can put your energy to the best use.”

There seem to be a number of problems.
It seems to me to be highly improbable (asymptotically approaching zero), to be able to create the sort of low risk profile required and have significant numbers of people still operating from paradigms that are essentially based in right and wrong.

It similarly seems highly improbable to me that one can create and maintain universal abundance (which logic dictates is a prerequisite for universal security), under anything remotely resembling a market based set of values. I can see some paths to stability that still have markets, but their values need to be subsidiary in all contexts to the values of individual life and individual liberty.
So there is liberty, and it is not absolute, as it is constrained to respect the life and liberty of others (failure to meet those preconditions will result in constraints on liberty, commensurate with perceived risk). That is a major change from today’s operant reality (it seems to me to be a far greater change than most have any dawnings of a conception of).

For me, it seems clear that long term security requires integrity at a very high level.
Integrity in this sense is not any sort of absolute truth, but rather a commitment to being open to the “knowledge/understanding” that everything is some sort of guess at some level, and that to the best of my knowledge these are the best guesses I can make, and if you have some better guess, then please give me as much context as possible for how and why it seems a better guess to you.

Making a statement like that to someone who is still operating from realms where “truth” has an absolute existence, where right and wrong are real things, occurs as a sort of nonsense, and gets a “you have got to be joking” sort of response.

Had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone I’ve known a long time, who is a leader in both the realms of politics and law in this country, someone I really like and respect, yet it was clear that the constraints on what he considered possible in the realms of truth, and acceptable in the realms of human behaviour, were so narrow, that communication in key realms was almost impossible – and he is a liberal, not a conservative. I have some very conservative friends, and their reality is even more tightly constrained, mostly by the “truth” of “market values”.

So all of that leaves me in a very tricky place.

What does integrity in communication look like when you know ahead of time that the likelihood of communication (as in a concept in one mind being replicated in another mind) is asymptotically approaching zero?

How can one have integrity about communicating intention when it seems that in a very real sense, the ones you are communicating to are highly unlikely to be able to conceive of the concept?

If one knows that ahead of time, then what is the difference between that and deliberate deception?

It is a hole I have been stuck in for nearly a decade now.

It kind of reminds me of something I did as a teenager – when I went down inside the mouth of a currently quiet and very explosive volcano, which was all scoria. It was great fun going down the scoria slope into the bottom, huge leaps followed by sliding gently to a stop. Climbing back out was one of the hardest things I have done, as many steps involved sliding back further than I went up, but over about ten steps, if I was really careful, I could make about one step up. Going down took me a few minutes. Coming back up took many hours, and I was exhausted and frustrated.
Being in this realm of probability feels a bit like that.

There are no solid “truths” to “push” against with logical argument.
One can put a little pressure on any given argument, but not too much or it collapses, and one slides backwards.

So when Deb said that my response to Bhatta was “totally predictable” that is both a plus and a minus.
On the plus side it demonstrates a certain consistency and integrity in my writing.
On the negative side, it demonstrates that all the creativity I put into crafting that particular set of words, in the specific form that they were, did not actually produce the outcome I was aiming for in the realm of communication (as in a concept in my mind being duplicated in the mind of another).
And maybe I just have to accept that as being highly improbable.

And I am back in the depths of my ethical dilemma.

In my own terms, if anyone else actually understands them, what I see as the dispositional landscapes to action created by different forms of belief structure present in the population in general, will create very different sets of interpretations from any given set of words I use.
The probability of me being understood with any sort of coherence, with any divergent set of groups, drops to near zero outside of a very small set of messages.

It seems that this set of messages can be generally understood with some useful reliability:

Respect for the life of every individual is essential.

Respect for the liberty of every individual is also essential, provided they are respecting the lives and liberties of others (which includes a respect for the environment that supports us all, and makes the liberty of many meaningful).

We can achieve far more by cooperation than is possible by competition (as is demonstrated by evolution, when viewed from an appropriate context {thank you Robert Axelrod}).

We have the technology to deliver universal abundance of all essentials of life to every person, with the freedom that entails, but it cannot be achieved within any set of systems that even remotely approximates free market capitalism.

If I try and say anything much more than that, then comprehension degrades to the point that it is hard for me to say much at all. The hills and valleys in the landscapes of the dispositions to comprehension of the particular sets of conceptual relationships are just too steep. The territory that I am trying to reach is over too many mountain ranges, and it requires flight, whereas most people are walking, and there just isn’t any way to get there by walking in any useful amount of time. The path is too long, too steep, too dangerous, requiring too many skills to navigate at all. Mountain climbing is far more dangerous and far slower than flying. And when you are flying, there is nothing solid supporting you, you are just going so fast, that the force required to move incomprehensibly large numbers of very small particles of gas out of your way is enough to support you, so long as you keep moving. You cannot stop. To fly safely, you have to keep moving, above a critical threshold, or stall and fall, and that is not healthy, very few survive it at low level.

And you don’t want to fly helicopters any where near volcanic dust, it is too abrasive, and rotors stir up too much of it, so helicopters don’t tend to keep flying too long in that sort of extremely hostile environment.

So yeah – complex set of metaphors, for an even more complex set of understandings.

I’m still in my hole. I did come here by my own choice. I was aware that rescue was unlikely and I would need to climb out myself. And I need to get out soon. Or I need a long rope from a helicopter that isn’t too charged with “static electricity”.

As to things being “natural”, what a minefield!
It seems to me that “nature” is essentially a random walk through probability and possibility “spaces”.

It seems that nature is neither beneficial nor cruel, just profoundly, randomly, indifferent. I have tried all of the possible interpretive schema I have encountered around this, and this is the only one that comes anywhere near matching observations over deep time and at the molecular level.
And I know that to be at variance with the foundations of most understandings reading this.

I do not hold “nature” as any sort of standard.
The natural world is certainly profoundly complex and diverse, and each and every one of us is a part of it – so in a sense, we are all natural.
And in another sense, predators and prey are natural, and I have no desire to be anyone’s prey, ever; and in a very real sense, the only way to avoid that {to achieve that level of security} is to remove all predators that might possibly see me as prey – one way or another.

So I am not above bringing about profound changes in nature, and nor is nature – the fossil record is full of evidence of far more profound changes, with far less conceptual or ethical content.

It is true that most often the past is a good predictor of the future, and sometimes it is not.

This period – the next few decades, is clearly one of those times where the past is little help at all.
Perhaps the most profoundly different one of those times yet to exist, or likely ever to exist.

It is clear to me that we do need to control, within certain flexible limits.
And both the degree of control and the flexibility of the limits need to be very sensitive to context – at all scales and levels.
One cannot impose hard boundaries on complicated, complex or chaotic systems – the systems will break those boundaries. That much is demonstrably clear from complexity theory.

And we do need to have boundary conditions within which human life (all of it) is possible – that is one of my staring conditions.

I am glad you did “go on again” Judi.

There is a truly profound question implicit in your last paragraph.

Is there an even more profound alternative to either “trust or fear”?

It seems to me that there is.

It seems to me that a profound comprehension of probability is something beyond and very different to, either trust or fear.
It simultaneously acknowledges uncertainty, and claims possibility. It views both as aspects of a landscape, that in a different context seem to deliver that which we experience as “trust” and “fear”, and at the same time seems to be profoundly beyond either – from an entirely different place.

@Bhatta
I can certainly agree that it is not possible to use the tools of a traditional rational proof based, truth based, understanding alone to reach a useful approximation of an understanding of what it is to be human.
So in that sense, and that sense alone, I can agree that being human “cannot be comprehended other than through subjective experience of transcendental nature”.

And Wolfram has demonstrated an infinite set of potential realms of transcendence, none of which were conceptually available to the ancients (experientially yes, but not conceptually – that set of recursive levels of knowing thyself {in the most abstract of probabilistic senses} was simply not available until very recently).

Certain sets of experiences have been available to some humans for many thousands of years, yet a really useful approximation of an abstract understanding of what those experiences were has only been available for a few decades. And it seems clear in logic and observational physics that the details of all that is going on will be forever beyond human understanding in a sense, as it seems beyond reasonable doubt that we are the result of it, not the cause of it, though we can certainly be a creative influence upon many aspects of it.

And in the most abstract of probabilistic senses, it seems that we can come to know the classes of systems present, even though a full knowledge of those classes demonstrates that prediction is not even theoretically possible – there are too many classes of systems that are complex or chaotic existent within us to ever be able to predict with 100% accuracy what any human will do in any situation.
We might be 90% confident in some contexts, or 99.999% confident, but never 100%. And any degree of confidence, applied over a large enough population, can give useful outcomes in particular contexts.

And in some contexts, the probabilities might not even be 10% confidence.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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